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Why BBC’s documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ is not a usual case of artistic freedom

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By Ishan Kukerti

The ghost of 2012 Delhi Gang rape is here to haunt the nation again, making people cringe and boil with a sense of angst at the same time.

The government’s decision to put a restrain on the documentary is hardly a surprise but not totally unjustified. The state has played its part, and done that pretty fine. Although the case is pending in Supreme Court, out of the six accused, four are on a death row, one has committed suicide and one is in juvenile prison. For the government, the film is giving fuel to a fire and it has put it out the best way it could, within its capability.

The Justice Verma Report and the subsequent Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance 2013 are proof that the problem lies not with the state but the society. When a red faced Rajnath Singh says that the government is going to take action against BBC, then he is talking more as a member of a shamed society whose shortcomings are being rubbed into the face, than a statesman who is on a banning binge.

Freedom of speech, really?

This is not a usual case of freedom of speech or artistic freedom. Rape is a very sensitive issue and can’t be dealt like any other issue under the umbrella term, Freedom of Speech. The point is, will the film bring a change, serve a purpose?

There have been a lot of documentaries and films about the increasing rape culture in India along with other pressing issues relating to women in the past which have come and gone without occupying any substantial space in the media or people`s thought processes. None has resulted in the decline of rape cases or even the initiation of a dialogue at the ground level. Sex is still a taboo in India and what is required is a need to start a dialogue, free and meaningful.

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The Big Sister calls

The buzz created around India`s Daughter is majorly because it’s a BBC production and can be considered as a third person`s perspective. But has Leslee Udwin done justice to the subject of a universal social evil, by narrowing down her study on a specific yet in no way insignificant atrocity? Could her inquiry into the matter, as an international commentator been more holistic if she had taken a broader worldwide view, included the tussle between genders and an underlying primordial animal behavior in such cases, be it in Steubenville or France?  The documentary seems to be looking for a black cat in a room with lights turned off.  Or just saying that there is a black cat in the room.

According to a BBC survey, 230 women are raped in UK everyday and less than 1 in a 100 people gets convicted for the same. Yet Leslee Udwin`s decision to give voice to her sisters, so territorially and culturally removed from her seems weird, almost resembling a white burden of some sort. Maybe the brutality of the rape had attracted her imagination, which is well explored in the film. But isn’t this falling into the downward spiral of sensationalism in Journalism? Choosing an event more shocking than others ( yet in no way the most shocking, she could have found even more pathetic realities here or elsewhere) based on its content quality?

 

Solution, precipitate or nothing at all?   

But the BBC television director Danny Cohen has said that the film, ‘ Has a strong public interest of crating awareness about a global problem.’ and the inductive logic of the documentary gives some strong causes to rape as a phenomenon, like changing economy, patriarchy and social deprivation, but the solutions it brings to the discussion are quite generic and not unprecedented ‘ should bes’

like education and changing people`s mindset. More than a critical inquiry into an ignominious social evil, the film is a multi-narrative of the blood curding incident on December 16, 2012, which certainly makes the head hang but doesn’t bring anything concrete to the table. Shame has never deterred a criminal from a crime nor has repetition changed perceptions. The interview with one of the main accused in the case is proof enough how difficult it is to change someone`s view point. However the film has undoubtedly reinforced viewer`s opinion by giving it an authoritative BBC kind of voice.

Postscript

Will the Indian society or the world at large learn anything from the heart rendering reality of Nirbhaya? Will it make those who need to introspect, wait for a moment in their lives and think again?

The documentary is a definite reminder, a shocker, that the world has yet not forgotten about Nirbahya, even though most people have moved on to other issues, to different pandals at Jantar Mantar. In the end the relevance of the film can only be established on the basis of weather it incites frustration or leads to a constructive dialogue in the society.

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  • The documentary raises some very relevant questions undoubtedly, however, it probably failed to delve deeper about the malice called rape and sought to play to certain stereotypes( uneducated and poor men rape etc). If this documentary can raise awareness and expedite punishment of the rapists in question, its somewhat achieved what it set out to do.

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  • The documentary raises some very relevant questions undoubtedly, however, it probably failed to delve deeper about the malice called rape and sought to play to certain stereotypes( uneducated and poor men rape etc). If this documentary can raise awareness and expedite punishment of the rapists in question, its somewhat achieved what it set out to do.

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SC Warned Amrapali Directors, says “Would Be Rendered Homeless If Tried To Play Smart”

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

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The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons
The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore. Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Directors of the Amrapali Group to file details of all their movable and immovable assets along with valuation, and warned them that they would be rendered homeless if they tried “to play smart.”

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U.U. Lalit clarified that all the properties of the directors would be sold if the company failed to raise Rs 5,112 crore required to complete its unfinished housing projects.

The apex court directed the company to furnish details on how it intends to arrange Rs 5,112 crore.

The company Directors were asked to file affidavits within 15 days listing their movable and immovable properties.

"Don't burden the home-buyers. Don't try to be smart. Tell your Directors also," the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons
“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel. Wikimedia Commons

When the company’s counsel Gaurav Bhatia told the court that home-buyers will also pay to help it raise Rs 5,112 crore, the court said: “The home-buyers will not pay a penny.”

“Don’t burden the home-buyers. Don’t try to be smart. Tell your Directors also,” the bench told the counsel.

“Tell us how you intend to arrange the money? Otherwise, you will be rendered homeless,” the bench said.

The court told the Directors that as they had made buyers wait for their homes, they will also search for their homes if they don’t submit the plan to arrange for money for the unfinished projects.

“Days are not away when you (Directors) will compel us to do this. If necessary, we will take every strip (of land) if you compel us. Next time, come (to the court) with the proposal,” the top court observed.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons
The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers. Wikimedia Commons

When the court was told that electricity supply at two projects of Amrapali — Zodiac and Silicon Valley — has been disconnected, it ordered the power companies concerned to restore electricity by Wednesday itself.

The court posted the matter for August 14.

On August 1, the court slammed the Amrapali Group for playing “fraud and dirty games” with it and ordered freezing of bank accounts of all the Directors of its 40 firms, besides attaching their personal properties.

Public sector undertaking National Building Construction Corporation was also directed to take over all 16 unfinished projects of the Amrapali Group.

The real estate group is yet to hand over possession of flats to around 40,000 home-buyers.

Also Read: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging polygamy, nikah halala

The apex court has been hearing a batch of pleas filed by home-buyers who have sought quashing of the National Company Law Tribunal order to admit insolvency proceedings against the Amrapali Group.

The buyers belong to low and middle income groups and must be granted equal protection as other stakeholders, the financial and operational creditors, the home buyers’ plea said. (IANS)